Not when a bevy of mistakes and issues meant the Jaguars struggled to put away a winless team. The second half of the season is when teams are supposed to start gathering momentum for the playoff push but dumb mistakes and injuries to key players on the offensive line have the Jaguars stuck in survival mode.
For how long? The Jaguars (7-3) hope Sunday was the last time — but at least they have one of the league’s top defenses to get them through.
Quarterback Blake Bortles threw the ball pretty well against the Browns considering the conditions — and the fact that he didn’t have his No. 2 receiver (Allen Hurns) — but he fumbled once in the pocket, which has been an issue throughout his career.
The offense had 285 yards, but 206 of that came in the first half. It stagnated, mainly because they couldn’t get anything going on the ground. The offensive line struggled to create much room and the Jaguars felt the loss of Hurns in the pass game (Bortles completed only 5-of-10 passes).
The special teams were a mess in the first half, too. The Jaguars gave up 53-yard return on opening kickoff, committed an illegal formation penalty on their first punt cost and Brad Nortman mishit the ball and it went just 21 yards, and an offside penalty on Donald Payne wiped out a surprise onside kick that kicker Josh Lambo recovered.
Jaydon Mickens dropped a punt (he recovered it) and kicker Josh Lambo missed a 41-yard field goal after going 8-for-8 since being signed on Oct. 17 after the team cut Jason Myers.
Those kinds of mistakes on special teams didn’t hurt the Jaguars against the Browns, but they will against good teams like Seattle and Tennessee – and in the playoffs, where every mistake is magnified.
At least the mistakes are things the Jaguars can fix, especially those on special teams, but the injuries are another matter.
Right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) missed his second consecutive game. Left guard Patrick Omameh (quad) left the victory over the Los Angeles Chargers early and didn’t play against the Browns. Quarterback Blake Bortles was harassed in the pocket all day and sacked twice.
Running back Leonard Fournette played after being questionable with an ankle injury and while he did rush for 111 yards he really didn’t looked like he did in the first six games. He said on Thursday that his ankle was something he was going to have to manage the rest of the season. It appeared to have an impact because he stutter-stepped a lot and didn’t seem to have the same burst.
The Jaguars are winning ugly, which is what teams have to do sometimes, but that can’t continue of they’re going to have a chance to do something in the playoffs.